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Kuala Lumpur Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE

  • Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia with its mix of old historical monuments and buildings, together with skyscrapers, lush green parks, massive shopping malls, vibrant nightspots and street markets.
  • This place is full of color, incense and cuisine smells adorned by the differing cultures of Chinese, Malays and Indians. Coupled with the modern art scene and the digital economy in full swing, this city traverses across from the old to the new, and the traditional to the contemporary.
  • If you have come here with some personal freedoms on getting about, in mind, by renting a car, then you’ll be pleased to know we have spoken with some of the locals and overseas travelers, who are familiar with the area and come up with some exciting options to leave the hustle and bustle of the big KL behind.
  • Here are our top picks:
  • Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands
  • 3 h 32 min to Cameron Highlands (236kms) via Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1  via via typically
  • Take the old road towards Tapah and then on to Tanah Rata where the scenery is stunning and the villages as picturesque as you can find anywhere. Although the road is quite narrow, while it winds its way high up into the hills, it evolves to become quite exciting with jungle on both sides and a small waterfall on the way up.  Along the way look out for the orang asli or aborigines stalls on the roadside selling petai ("stink beans"), honey and other jungle products.

Once you get there, the scenery around the Cameron Highlands is totally picturesque, and the towns themselves are scenic, as in the fact they have been developed with tourism attraction in mind.

To take probably the most stunning scenic drive in Malaysia follow the drive through the tea plantations between Kea Farm to the Boh (Sungai Palas) tea estate in Cameron Highlands, then go up to the Gunung Brinchang scenic lookout point for one of the best views you will see.

Some quick facts about this journey:

  • There is toll road from Kuala Lumpur (Jalan Duta Toll) to Tapah. Make sure you have money.
  • The last rest area along the expressway is the Tapah Rest Area which is about 3 km from Exit 132. The next one is at the toll exit.
  • Since the road from Tapah to Cameron Highlands is very narrow and windy make sure your passengers are prepared for possible motion sickness.
  • As there are lots of heavy vehicles on this road, be cautious when overtaking. We recommend you don’t until prompted to. It’s normal for heavy local heavy vehicles to give you a signal to overtake when it’s safe. Let vehicles behind you overtake you if you’re driving slower that vehicle.
  • In the rainy season, be careful for fallen rocks and loose branches along the road.
  • Drivers who are new to these roads we do not recommend night driving, especially when it’s raining.

Kuala Lumpur to Melaka

1 h 46 min to Melaka (Malacca) (144kms) via Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2  via via typically

This drive may take a bit longer than stated due to varying traffic conditions and is reached from Kuala Lumpur by journeying down the North-South expressway.  The road itself is nothing special, but the on arrival, the visit is well justified.

Featuring at its best here, is the Dutch architecture in central Melaka. This historic sea-port is probably the place of first choice for those interested in pure Malay culture and cuisine. However, it also demonstrates Malaysia’s multi-cultural history with displays of Islamic, Chinese and Indian influences, together with a rich European history too. The Portuguese, Dutch and British were all here at one time and have left their influence, so much so that the area is designated with UNESCO World Heritage status.  When you have found a place to park your car, you may want to go down some of the narrow passageways on foot, or for a ride in a trishaw.

Don’t miss the colonial centre of the city located on the east side of the Melaka River (Sungai Melaka) with the ruins of the old Portuguese fort ‘Porta de Santiago’ and St Paul’s Church. For stunning views over the city go to St Paul’s Hill. There is also a town square which really looks like Amsterdam and acts as a reminder to Melaka’s Dutch colonial history with the old Stadhuys (Town Hall) and Christ Church.

Another idea is to spend time for a short walk to Kampung Morten in the north of the city for an evening stroll as the sun is setting.  This riverside promenade provides vistas of traditional Melakan fisherman’s homes with some fascinating river wildlife, monitor lizards and the unusual mudskipper fish. The entire area is also illuminated at night which adds to the ambiance of the area for an evening stay.

Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary

1 h 31 min to Arrive around · Leave around · Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (114 km) via E8  via via typically

This relatively short drive will take you to the only centre of its type in Malaysia. If you’re into this gentle species, don’t miss it as it specialises in the relocation, tracking and care of displaced or orphaned elephants in SE Asia.

These forest elephants of Asia are considered rare and elusive animals, and this is the best place to get up close and personal with them. You can hand feed them and even take a ride on the back of them as they climb into the murky river for a bath. The centre also has instructional videos and an education centre.  Be aware that if you go for a frolic in the river with these fantastic creatures, they are also going to use it as a toilet, so bring a change of clothes.

Entry is free here, but it is considered normal to provide a donation. Only the first 120 persons to arrive each day are allowed in, so get here early to avoid disappointment.

Kualu Lumpur to Kuala Selangor

58 min to Kuala Selangor (Arrive around · Leave around · 68.4 km) via Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1 and Lebuhraya Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Selangor/E25  via via typically

This quick trip will give you something to experience that is really “out there”. Drive out and catch a sampan to wonder at the fireflies. They are small flying beetles that emit light caused by a chemical reaction in their abdomens, and they live on the mangrove trees along the Selangor River near Kampung Kuantan.  This natural ritual is designed to attract mating beetles.

Taking a sampan, which is a small flat bottomed boat in the evening amongst the mangroves, pulsating with lights from these creatures is a marvellous site. Do be aware that flash photography is not permitted, so you may need to rely on picking up some postcards and superimposing photos of them onto your camera when you get back, if you want them on your digital camera.

The best times to visit are on dry, moonless nights, just after dark, no later than 11.00pm, when the mating ritual begins to stop. Avoid the crowds also, by going during the week.  Sampan rides that take up to 4 persons are quite reasonable and will cost you less than a fast food burger back home.

Plan your road trip directions well, as some of the back roads can get a bit tricky on approach.

Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson

1 h 15 min to Port Dickson (Arrive around · Leave around · 91.8 km) via Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2  via via typically

What KL lacks in terms of a tropical natural experience, this place makes up for.  The 18kms of nearby sandy beaches, palms and banyan trees is really the place to relax and watch a sunset. The road tracks along the coastline and there are plenty of places to stop.

A few kilometres south of Port Dickson is a place known as the Blue Lagoon, next to Cape Rachado.  It has a small coral reef not far from the beach which helps protect the lagoon, which also helps to provide some of the clearest sparkling water in the area.

Getting here is easy as it is serviced by an expressway, but do take time to stop off on the coastal road between Port Dickson and Cape Rachado. Teluk Kemang is considered the most popular beach.

Kuala Lumpur to Fraser's Hill

2 h 8 min to Frasers Hill (116kms) via Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1 and Route 55

This trip is well worth the drive. It’s a touch of Scotland in this picturesque hillside resort in the clouds, and is named after the Scottish pioneer, James Fraser who disappeared around here after setting up an iron ore trading post in the late 1890’s.  The air is cool since it rises to 1500m above the humid sea level below, and offers a scenic mix of clouded tropical forest and British colonial architecture and history.

The cool refreshing air is a welcome relief to invigorate the souls of weary travellers. There are tropical walks under the forest canopy and a 5km walking trail to the Jeriau waterfall where you can bathe in the refreshing water beneath it.

There are some other activities around the area like boat rides, and if you want a game of golf there is a 9-hole golf course at the Royal Fraser's Hill Golf Club.

One thing to be aware of is that the last 8kms is alternating one-way traffic. So that final ascent provides a 35 minute window to start the climb each two hours, beginning at 7am.

Fraser’s Hill is only 116km north up the Karak Highway and you will be glad you chose to rent a car as there is no other convenient way in. Buses and taxis are not really a convenient option, as they are either slow or hard to find, compared to renting a car.

As with all of these trips, you may want to spend extra time to stopover. There are plenty of discount accommodation option on Cheaperthanhotels website to suit all budgets, and with the money you save on Cheaperthancars rental and hire discount options, you will have more to do with your travel cash when you get there. You’ll find the saving will go a long way.

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